An Emily Dickinson Suite

An Emily Dickinson Suite was commissioned in 2008 by the Amherst Regional High School Wind ensemble. This project, funded entirely from within the school and community of Amherst, Massachusetts was the initiative of then music director of the wind ensemble, Brian Messier.

The suite takes the form of nine vignettes inspired by eight poems of Emily Dickinson. However, I have taken the liberty of titling the vignettes from the first line of each poem.

1: This Is My Letter To The World
2: To Hear An Oriole Sing
3: I’m Nobody
4: The Little Stone
5: If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
6: A Narrow Fellow In The Grass
7: A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
8: Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
9: This Is My Letter To The World

The score (enclosed) contains the full texts of the poems and the foreword touches on the process I used to compose these ‘songs without words’. Here are the slides that are projected during performances.

Throughout the composition process I was in contact with Brian Messier with the aim of producing a work that would fit the abilities of his performers. I met with the band in the early stage of the process and again travelled to Amherst to share in the final week of rehearsals – a rewarding experience.

An Emily Dickinson Suite certainly challenged this band. However under their director’s inspired leadership, and perhaps inspired in turn by a feeling of ownership of the piece, they turned in a premiere that clearly exceeded their own (and my) expectations. The performance earned a prolonged standing ovation from the capacity audience in Amherst College auditorium.

Christopher Marshall
Orlando, Florida, 2009


“…. captivating, fresh and beautiful …. a glorious piece ….” Frank Battisti (more)
“…. a series of brilliant moments that combine to produce a truly profound whole ….” Brian Messier (more)

Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble (or Symphonic Band)

1 Picc. 3 Fl. 2 Ob. 4 BbCl. 1 Bass Cl. 2 Alt.Sax. 1 Ten.Sax. 1 Bar.Sax. 1 Bsn. // 2 FHn. 3 BbTpt. 2 Tbn. 1 Euph. 1 Tba. // 1 Str.Bass 1 Timp. 3 Perc.

Persusal Score


The premiere performance by the Amherst Regional High School Wind Ensemble under Brian Messier, Amherst MA, June 1, 2009.


The second performance by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Wind Ensemble under Jack Stamp, November 15 2009.





Grade 5


Vaia’ata Print (self-published)